Rodeo Team is saddling up to win


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By Morgan Lafferty

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As the UK Rodeo Team kicks off its third year, barrel racers are saddling their horses, roughies are pulling out the practice barrels for bull riders, and the team’s executives are busy welcoming new members to the club.

Returning members are excited about how many people have showed interest in the team this year.

“This season we’re getting a lot more members to actually go on the road and compete in the (National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association),”  said Jarret Martinez, the team’s vice president and an agricultural economics junior. “This year we’ll be going as a team — there’s more of us going out there and experiencing competing.”

The team is competing with six barrel racers, two bull riders and one team roper this year.

Other club members are learning about the rules and regulations and what it takes to rodeo.

“Everything is fun out here,” said Whitney Ott, an agricultural education junior and barrel racer who joined the team last year. “(Last year) there wasn’t anything that wasn’t exciting.”

Sustainable agriculture junior John Allender said he is looking forward to getting out on the road and participating in college rodeos. As bull riders, they sometimes practice bareback drills.

“I was trying to get on Adam’s horse one time … I hopped up on him and he didn’t like it very much and he bucked me off,” Allender said. “Of course I tried to get back up on him again and he bucked me off again.”

Jimmy Marshall, the team’s new bull riding coach, rode in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the International Professional Rodeo Association for five years each. He also judged for the Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association and some smaller Professional Bull Riders shows.

An accident forced Marshall to quit bull riding, but he said he is excited to work with the team.

“I can’t ride anymore so I thought, ‘Well, if I can help them at all it might get them to where I wanted to be,’” Marshall said.

Marshall said he wants to help Martinez and Allender get as close as they can to the finals this year, and wants them to help new members get a feel for bull riding.

People who are interested in rodeo or competing, and have their own horse, are encouraged to join.

“Even if you’re fresh to rodeos, we like to help people get into it,” Martinez said. “We like to help anybody from beginners to experts — any experience level we’re willing to help out with.”

The team is practicing steadily for their first rodeo at the University of West Alabama on Oct. 8 through 10.

Allison Barkley, the team’s president and an equine management junior, said she is excited to watch the team and the new members grow.

“We have all these new people this year and I’m looking forward to hopefully making a splash in the NIRA circuit,” Barkley said.